I recently asked Coach T to shoot some simple videos of me running. These were the first ever videos I have seen of myself running.
My first reaction? Train wreck.
Two days later? I am a bit less sensitive to what I am seeing. I hate the videos less. And I see different things when I look at them.
I have to thank my Twitter friend Isis for reminding me of one simple fact:
“Celebrate and be proud of your accomplishments. While non-challenged people are sitting on a couch watching tv, here you are fighting to be able to do what you love and trying to get better, regardless of any disability.”
I guess Isis’ comment also highlights why the video was hard for me to watch. It was the first time I have seen myself as others do when I run – a runner who struggles. My nerve disease – well that is invisible to everyone but me. Pretty much nobody ever notices anything wrong with me. Even *I* don’t even notice anything wrong with me on most days. But this video… Well I guess it is the only outward sign that I have a condition that can be classified as a disability.
DH and Coach T both tell me all the time that I have improved so much in the last year of concentrated effort with my run, and with the work I have done on functional strength balance and stability. I *do* feel so much stronger. In general, when I am out running, I may have uncomfortable parts (I felt really tight on the day of the run video – probably due to the -1*C temperatures), but I feel stable and strong. I feel more “in my legs” – if that makes sense.
The advantages of having videos of me running are huge. I can understand what we are working to fix. I can see the minor adjustments in form to make, to great effect.
I have been able to pass the videos along to my neurophysiotherapist too, for her review, so that she can help me to improve my run with targeted rehab. Right now we have been working on improving my toe flexibility and we also are trying to strengthen my left calf (I can’t really do calf lifts on my left side, for some bizarre reason). According to Gita, in the video:
“You certainly look more symmetrical but I’ve got some ideas of how to improve your propulsion. It’ll be good to see how your transfer over your foot (and big toe) and calf strength has changed so we can progress you.”
That is the thing. I have a nerve disease, I have not really run for a long time, and all of this is new for me. All of this – swim, bike, run, strength building, stability work – all of it – is an experiment. I go out, try things, find what works. I push my limits, feel uncomfortable, consult doctors, physios and orthotists. I seek new solutions and approaches. I work with my coach and physio and sports therapist to stay mobile and to get stronger and to improve. And I carry on. Constantly pushing and challenging myself.
I asked another of the research physiotherapists at the National Hospital for Neurology to help me to understand a recent study on CMT that had been published. In November researchers at the University of Rome published a study which showed that patients with CMT1A (the nerve disease that I have) and low levels of impairment (like me) have a higher cost of energy when walking than healthy individuals. According to Louise, the main findings were:
- The CMT group walked significantly slower than the unaffected group at comfortable and fast walking speeds.
- The step length of the CMT group was significantly shorter compared to the unaffected group only at the fast walking speed.
- The CMT group had a significantly higher energy cost per unit of distance (uptake of oxygen per meter) for both comfortable and fast walking speeds compared to the unaffected group.
- The CMT group had a higher heart rate per unit of distance (beats per meter) at slow and fast walking speeds compared to the unaffected group.
“To sum this up CMT1A patients have a lower walking economy, which means they walk slower, for a shorter duration and with a higher level of physical effort.”
The study seemed to confirm what I have been feeling – that even though I may move slower than others, I am using the same if not more energy when I run. Running can really wipe out my energy reserves. I have also found it really hard to make changes to my stride, specifically efforts to increase my stride length. But I am doing it – it is just taking a long time.
I am convinced that with time and patience, I will develop and improve. I just need to keep positive. To focus on what I *can* do. I need to resist the temptation to compare myself with others. I need to remind myself that this is about being the best *I* can be. I need to remember that the fact I *can* do this is achievement in its own right.
And If I forget to be positive? Please call me out. Let me know. I definitely have a tendancy to be hard on myself – especially when it comes to me and running! So please help me by reminding me of my progress. Help me to snap out of the negative. Remind me of the positive things… I really value the sense checks!